Former NAACP Spokane president Rachel Dolezal continues to insist that she’s black and didn’t mislead or deceive anyone when she characterized her racial identity as such and identified Albert Wilkerson, who is black, as her father on Facebook.
“It’s taken my entire life to negotiate how to identify, and I’ve done a lot of research and a lot of studying,” Dolezal tells Vanity Fair in a new interview. “I didn’t mislead anybody; I didn’t deceive anybody. If people feel misled or deceived, then sorry that they feel that way, but I believe that’s more due to their definition and construct of race in their own minds than it is to my integrity or honesty, because I wouldn’t say I’m African American, but I would say I’m black, and there’s a difference in those terms.”
Dolezal adds of her appearance, “It’s not a costume. … It’s not something that I can put on and take off anymore.” And she says that she’s no longer confused about who she is.
The former NAACP Spokane president resigned from that position shortly after she found herself at the center of a controversy when her parents told a local newspaper that their daughter was born Caucasian. She also lost a part-time teaching job at Eastern Washington University. She now receives her sole income from styling black hair out of her home but indicated to Vanity Fair that she needs a job.
“I’ve got to figure it out before August 1, because my last paycheck was like $1,800 in June,” she says. “[I lost] friends and the jobs and the work and — oh, my God — so much at the same time.”
She notes that there’s “awkwardness” among her former colleagues at the NAACP, particularly with new president Naima Quarles-Burnley.
“It’s been really interesting because a lot of people have been supportive within the NAACP, but then there’s also some awkwardness because I went from being president to not-president,” she tells Vanity Fair. “I’m kind of just keeping a little bit of distance so that Naima can get in her flow of leadership. It’s actually hard because I think there’s a little coldness from her, which is hard to deal with for me, to feel like she doesn’t trust me as much now or something. I don’t know.”
Dolezal also tells the magazine that she hopes to write a book as a way of explaining her situation.
“I would like to write a book just so that I can send [it to] everybody there as opposed to having to continue explaining,” she says. “After that comes out, then I’ll feel a little bit more free to reveal my life in the racial social-justice movement. I’m looking for the quickest way back to that, but I don’t feel like I am probably going to be able to re-enter that work with the type of leadership required to make change if I don’t have something like a published explanation.”